So I am back to the Christmas cookie season with this post. This time I decided to share with you a simple, 2 ingredients, basic cookie type known as Meringue, which is quite common in Europe over the merry festivity period. Meringues are sometimes even known as Baiser or in German even as Windbäckerei. They appear in different shapes such as drops and circles and sometimes they even come in different colors. I thought it for the best to start first with the plain easy Meringues recipe for now. Over time I hope to share some more decoration tips and uses here.
Now what are Meringues, you might ask? Meringues are cookies/sweet treats made of whipped egg whites and Sugar, piped on a baking tray and dried in the oven on a slow heat. They are kept to dry so that they harden and the color shouldn’t alter, that’s why they are not baked on higher heat. The first step to a successful Meringue is to part the egg whites from the Yolk neatly. This is very important, so do that in a white bowl so that you can see if any yolk pieces are left. There should be non, or the egg whites won’t stiffen. The powdered sugar is added and whisked in once the Egg whites are stiff. Then you just need to pipe them on a baking paper in a any shape you fancy (start maybe with droplets so you get the feel for it) and pop them into the oven at a low 100 Celsius for about 60 minutes. Voila, you got your own home made meringues!
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Usually I am really late in preparing things for Christmas, so for that reason I tend to look for the easy recipes and the ones that my family and friends love the most. My mum is the kind of super Christmas baker who prepares boxes full of Christmas cookies every year. Some of those would be gifted to our family and friends in Austria, some more would even reach our massive family in France and at last some find their way to India. So over time we figured out a strategy to manage quantity and quality at the same time. Therefore we tend to go more for the easier cookies so that we can satisfy more people. Sounds like a commercial bakery, right? 😉 I feel many people go through the same ordeal every year. Seriously, preparing a neat Christmas season for the family at home is quite a handful! For sure I can’t be the only one struggling to find time to manage it all at the end, right? So many things to do but so little time left to prepare the essentials.
Since I have started to bake Christmas cookies in Goa, I realized that I had some double work coming up. The tropical weather makes things very difficult and many of the traditional Christmas bakery ingredients are not available here. So I often end up turning a kg sugar into powdered sugar and I am forced to make my own Vanilla sugar from scratch. Of course, home made ingredients taste better, but as I mentioned above, I am always out of time! O.O Another problem is the continues heat together with the humidity, which turns my baked cookies quickly soft, and soft cookies are useless. Plus the ants are killing again this year! Therefore I need to plan my cookie assortment and timing for baking very carefully, and of course I need to keep a bunch of airtight boxes ready. Does that sound familiar to you?
Correct storing of your finished baked goods is very essential, not only in a tropical climate, but also in a cooler climate. In Europe we would use Cookie boxes of Aluminum, here I have to use plastic boxes, otherwise insects will give you a nightmare. Lay out baking paper inside before you place the cookies nicely into the box, then add another baking sheet on top of them and a couple of Apple peels. The apple peels help in keeping moisture out of the cookies and they give a nice Christmas fragrance when you open the box. Somebody had mentioned that Carrot pieces keep moisture out as well. I don’t know if that is correct, since I hadn’t testes it yet. Do you know if that would work?
- 4 Egg whites
- 200 grams powdered Sugar
- First of all, separate your egg whites neatly from the yolks. Not even a tiny bit of yolk should be left in the egg whites, or your egg whites won't get stiff! This is very important.
- Grab a hand mixer and whisk your egg whites to a stiff white snow. You ll know if is stiff when you turn your bowl upside down and nothing falls out. That's my test to go!
- Now, add in the Sugar in batches while you keep on mixing the whole mix with the mixer on a slow number. We need the sugar well incorporated! You can see a change in the texture and the mixture turns more glossy.
- Preheat your oven at 100 Celcius.
- Prepare your baking trays with baking paper. Grab a nozzle and piping bag and fill it batch by batch with the sugary egg whites mixture and pipe it carefully into a drop for the beginning. Afterwards you can experiment a bit around by making different shapes such as rings and sticks etc. That's pretty much up to you.
- Place the trays with the goods into the oven for about 60 minutes or until the the meringues turn a bit cream in color. After 60 minutes you will realize that the hot meringues are still a bit soft, but when you leave them to cool for a couple of minutes, they will harden.
- Store them in a airtight container (See above tips).